4 Tips for Taking Surprising Mobile Photos

It doesn’t matter if you use an iPhone or an Android there are a few things you can do to get your mobile photography to the next level. All of the photos included with the tips were taken with my Google Pixel phone. I normally shoot with a big Hasselblad camera, but sometimes I have with me is my phone. I’ve come up with some great tricks to make them look as surprising and incredible as possible.

1) Don’t hit that big circle on the screen to take the photo. Use the Vol Up button on the side! One, when you jab the screen with your finger, you’re causing camera-shake and it will make your photo more blurry. Two, using the volume up button allows you to hold the camera much more steady with one or two hands.

Image 1

This was taken an underground Turkish bath in Budapest, Hungary. This is Olya, my crazy Russian videographer, who traveled through Europe with us to make some inspirational and tutorial videos.

2) Experiment with the mobile app Snapseed! It’s free and available for Android and iOS. This is, by far, the best app for editing your photos on your phone. There are many tools in there and many different filters. One great thing about Snapseed is you can layer many different filters together to really give your photo a unique look. People will wonder how you did it!

Image 2

Here’s a fun family photo from a few months ago when we rode camels near the pyramids in Egypt. I used Snapseed filters to give it this “look.”

3) Take some cheeky street photos. If you’re like me, as you walk around the streets, you often see interesting people, crazy outfits, or just kooky things you find interesting. It can sometimes be embarrassing to blatantly aim your phone at these things, so get used to using the Volume Up button to take the photos. On the Pixel phone, for example, I can turn on the camera by double-clicking the power button. Then I move my finger to volume-up to take the photo. Your horizon will probably be off, but you can fix that later.

Image 3

Here’s a cheeky street photo I took in Budapest, Hungary. This is my assistant Tane. He’s not posing; this is literally how he looks all the time.

4) Try combining your phone with an iPad or tablet to edit your photos to the next level. Professional photographers know that a photo reads differently on a larger screen. Next time you’re at a coffee shop, why not zap your photo over to your tablet (via Google Photos or Airdrop), then use Snapseed to edit it there. A good photo always looks better bigger on a tablet, so don’t feel like you’re forced to use that tiny little screen.

Image 4

This a photo I took in Aruba. I was jogging on the beach, and of course I had my mobile phone with me. I was able to cover a lot of ground quickly, and there’s no way I would go on a jog and carry a Hasselblad! But it’s nice to always have the phone with me and take a ton of photos, picking out the best after I sit down to relax.

Image 5

Here’s a panorama of three different photos I took while on a walk here near my home in New Zealand. Since I have an Android, I use Google photos. One great thing about Google Photos is there’s a little AI assistant that will “gift” you a panorama if it senses you took a lot of photos close together.

Image 6

Near my home on the south island of New Zealand, there is this amazing place to watch the sunset called Lake Hayes. I forgot my big Hasselblad camera, so all I had was my phone. There’s a saying that the Best Camera is the one you have with you!

Approaching the Palace

We’re back again to the Pena Palace!

Let’s take a little walk down two-week memory lane! Here’s another picture of this same place from another hilltop forest.

Day 3 - Portugal - Disneycastle (53 of 61)

Daily Photo – Approaching the Palace

I don't think it's too hard to request special access to this palace so you can be in there alone. We had a whole hour to run around in the morning. You just can't take a bad photo in this place. It's so colorful and decadent… I can't even imagine living here

Approaching the Palace

Photo Information

  • Date Taken2017-04-17 08:29:47
  • CameraX1D
  • Camera MakeHasselblad
  • Exposure Time1/15
  • Aperture22
  • ISO200
  • Focal Length30.0 mm
  • Flash
  • Exposure ProgramManual
  • Exposure Bias

Guess what they are selling in this store in Lisbon?

Sensitive Horizon Controls

Man, I do love that Hasselblad X1D (today’s photos is one of my favorites with it), but one thing that is a bit strange is the electronic horizon. When I take a photo like this, of course I try to use it to make sure everything is level. I can’t tell if it’s tooooo sensitive or if my hands are too unsteady. I don’t think the latter because I’m using the tripod. Even the slightest movement seems to send it over the edge.

It would be cool of there was some kind of way for the camera to auto-horizon itself. I have no idea how that would work… but it’s a cool idea.

Guess what they are selling in this store in Lisbon?

Chocolates? No, definitely not. Candy? Not even close. Flavored condoms? No, but that's a strange guess you made. They're actually selling sardines! It's like the most beautiful sardine store in the world. It's worth a zoom-in on Smugmug to see all the details. Each column is a different year. The gimmick is you go buy the sardines with your birth year on it. It gives you “fun facts” about your birthday on the back of the sardine can. Stuff depressing stuff like, “same year that Pope was shot” or things that are hard to prove like, “same year as beavers were discovered.”

Guess what they are selling in this store in Lisbon?

Photo Information

  • Date Taken2017-04-22 21:24:03
  • CameraX1D
  • Camera MakeHasselblad
  • Exposure Time1
  • Aperture16
  • ISO100
  • Focal Length30.0 mm
  • Flash
  • Exposure ProgramManual
  • Exposure Bias

The Harry Potter Bookstore in Porto

Hot Tip for this spot

Now in this legendary bookstore below, they don’t let you use tripods. This was a real buzzkill for me, so I tried my best with handheld (but not bad, eh?) – anyway after I was there I got a hot tip from a friend. If you get here in the morning, an hour before opening, the cleaning crew will let you in with a tripod so you can take your time and get the shot you want!

The Harry Potter Bookstore in Porto

My friend Cliff from Google tipped me off on this place. He sent me his own photo and I go, “I gotta get in there!” Even though it's a real bookstore, you actually have to buy a ticket around the corner to get inside. I thought that was a bit strange, but they do subtract the cost of your ticket if you buy a book, so that's pretty cool.

This is a vertirama made from two handheld photos.

The Harry Potter Bookstore in Porto

Photo Information

  • Date Taken2017-04-25 18:42:10
  • CameraX1D
  • Camera MakeHasselblad
  • Exposure Time1/60
  • Aperture3.5
  • ISO1600
  • Focal Length30.0 mm
  • Flash
  • Exposure ProgramManual
  • Exposure Bias

Pena National Palace in Sintra, Portugal

Textures!

You may notice today’s photo has a fun series of textures on it. I do this a lot whenever the sky is a bit dull or I just want to give it a nice effect. Be sure to go Grab my textures and texture tutorial from the store if you want to try it too.

Pena National Palace in Sintra, Portugal

This is probably the most beautiful castle/palace thing I've ever visited in my life. I think it's officially called a palace, but I think of it more like a Disney castle. The colors are all real that you see here! (Well, I added some texture in the sky for fun, but the colors are all true-to-life). It's set in the middle of a sprawling 200-acre forest park. There are paths all over the place, but it's actually quite hard to find a place to take a photo like this. You definitely can't get this view from any of the standard lookout spots. It takes just a little bit of rock-climbing and clambering around to get this view.

Pena National Palace in Sintra, Portugal

Photo Information

  • Date Taken2017-04-17 07:48:01
  • CameraX1D
  • Camera MakeHasselblad
  • Exposure Time1/250
  • Aperture5.6
  • ISO200
  • Focal Length90.0 mm
  • Flash
  • Exposure ProgramManual
  • Exposure Bias

Beautiful Lisbon, Portugal

The Hasselblad X1D

You’ll start to see me get more and more X1D shots onto the blog. I absolutely love that machine! Here is one of them on today’s daily photo. It’s actually the first time I put that 90mm lens on there… what a beast!

Daily Photo – Beautiful Lisbon, Portugal

This was my favorite spot to shoot the city from above. I was surprised how hilly Lisbon was; I had no idea. It reminded me a lot of San Francisco in that way. One way it wasn't like San Francisco was the food prices! Everything cost just a mere fraction of most big cities. Now that I think about it, I both wish I would have eaten more, and I'm also glad I didn't eat more! 🙂

Beautiful Lisbon, Portugal

Photo Information

  • Date Taken2017-04-17 21:12:03
  • CameraX1D
  • Camera MakeHasselblad
  • Exposure Time1
  • Aperture3.2
  • ISO200
  • Focal Length90.0 mm
  • Flash
  • Exposure ProgramManual
  • Exposure Bias

European Photo Walk Announcement Yay!

I’m doing TEN (count ’em 10) free photo walks across Europe… also a few special day-long workshops. Wanna see the list of places? Come check out the new site at 80stays.treyratcliff.com!

See your city? Tell your friends! 🙂

These photo walks are family friendly events and all are welcome. Bring a friend or two! 🙂 Anything from a mobile phone to a DSLR will do swimmingly. I share lots of tips and tricks, do Q&A, and more… even better, we get to roam part of the city taking photos together. Come on out – I can’t wait to meet you! 🙂

Walking about the Sorbonne in the evening

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